LUMBERTON, MS (WDAM) - Starting Wednesday, a new chief is in charge of the Lumberton Volunteer Fire Department, which now falls under Lamar County supervision.
Lamar County Fire Coordinator George Stevens said the county appointed Chief Mike Watts, who will man the station one day a week.
The Lumberton VFD has not had a full time, paid staff recently, which Stevens said is in the process of changing.
“Watts normally works at the Southeast Station," Stevens said. "But having him here even one day a week and someone else at the Southeast Station in his place, (one) day adds help to the county as a whole."
The county and fire officials are also hopeful of expanding the roster of volunteers for the county and city.
“Adding a new chief and the contract with Lumberton is not a bad thing," Stevens said. "It actually adds manpower to the county, and manpower is one thing we are always in need of."
Stevens also said physical improvements are on the way for the Lumberton station.
“We are looking to have a contractor come in and have some drive through bays with different doors," he said.
Stevens also said a contractor will fix some bent metal. There is also a possibility of adding some day rooms, bedrooms and a training and weight room.
“Some of that cost can be offset by people in the department helping with the labor," Stevens added.
Stevens said he did not know what the total cost would be for those renovations, but Lumberton does have close to $20,000 saved from fire insurance from the state that could be used.
“Right now, with Chief Watts, we are going to operate on the fast track for now, and hope to build a roster of volunteers quickly," he said. "But that can all be subject to change in the future. When (Lumberton) can hold (its) own, they can help the surrounding area and other departments. They can be an asset to other areas in the county and provide an extra truck or extra man, and the more people we have, the better.”
Stevens added these leadership changes were approved during the last Lamar County board meeting. However, due to the process of paperwork with contracts, equipment and trucks, the changes began Wednesday.